U.S. President Donald Trump has made a point of inviting numerous athletic team of various sporting codes to the White House since he took office in January 2017 to honor their achievements. Of late, those dinners have been nothing but a spread of a selection of fast food, but they have been hosted nonetheless.
But the Washington Post has noticed a glaring difference between Trump and his predecessors: none of the teams invited to the president’s residence for a congratulatory dinner have been women’s teams.
Although there were women’s sports teams present at an event in November 2017 for NCAA championship teams, no individual women’s team has made an appearance at the White House under any under circumstances since Trump took over the presidency.
According to the publication, this is abnormal given that the past five administrations have all invited individual NCAA teams over, and the Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations also invited WNBA teams to dinner.
So far, Trump has invited a team that won the NCAA’s second division to his residence, but has yet to host a female sporting team. A dinner for a second division NCAA side has not been hosted at the White House since Clinton was in office.
Trump heaped praise on the North Dakota State Bison when he hosted the second division team to the White House on Monday, acknowledging how unusual it is for a team of their caliber to get the invitation in the first place.
— Mary Ann Novak (@manovak43) March 5, 2019
While the president has decided to honor even such second division teams, he still hasn’t hosted one for any female teams. The past two WNBA champions — the Minnesota Lynx in 2017 and the Seattle Storm in 2018 — did not make it to the White House, nor did the Notre Dame 2018 championship women’s basketball team.
The White House has not responded to the criticism so far, nor stated whether or not women’s teams have been invited to a dinner with the president and simply declined to attend.
It wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility that these teams might have declined, given that it seems to have become a controversial decision for athletes to appear at the White House since Trump took over the presidency.
After the 2018 Super Bowl, Trump first invited and then uninvited the Philadelphia Eagles after there was talk that some of the players would not attend. After their win in this year’s Super Bowl, some of the Patriots have already said they don’t want to attend either. Stephen Curry made it clear before an invitation was even extended that he had no interest in meeting the president.
The tradition of inviting championship sports teams to the White House on an annual basis dates back to the Ronald Reagan administration. It’s not just collegiate sports teams that have made visits either. Professional football teams, hockey teams, and even racing car drivers have been honored at such events by previous presidents.